Help for Pine - Mail Collection
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The Mail Collection is a directory that contains folders that are primarily used for permanently saving messages. Although it is a common practice to keep Incoming-Folders in this collection, it is not the best place to hold them. For example, the TAB key does not work in this collection to move between folders.

The directory that Pine uses for this collection is the "mail" directory, but this directory can be changed by editing the file "pine/os.h" and editing the value of DF_MAIL_DIRECTORY. If this directory is not found, then Pine will create one upon startup, together with the folders "sent-mail" and "saved-messages".

Organizing your Mail in Directories

Pine gives you the ability to organize your folders in subdirectories the mail/ directory. This is useful since it allows you to reduce the amount of folders visible at any time, and it also allows you to improve the organization of your e-mail. As an example of this, one can create a directory, say "2000", to store sent mail during the year 2000, this reduces the amount of visible folders at any time. The directory "2000" could also be a subdirectory of another directory called "old". In this way you do not see past years "1999", "1998", etc in the same screen too, and so on.

In order to add a directory you must put the cursor over any folder in the Mail Collection and press "A ^X", and then the name of the directory you want to create. One of the nice features of Pine is that if you want to create a folder, say "2001", in the directory "old", you just need to give the path to the folder, in other words entering "old/2001" creates the folder. The nicest thing of all is that if the directory "old" did not exist, Pine would create it, and then also add the folder 2001 to it.

In order to delete a directory you must previously delete all folders (and files) contained in that directory. For this reason I always have enabled [X] enable-dot-folders, since this feature allows me to see hidden folders in a directory.

Notice that the "; Select" command does not enter to subdirectories, it just checks for folders, so if you need to make a selection of messages based on some criteria, you must open the directory first.

About the Default Folders

If you don't have an Incoming-Folders collection, then you will see that INBOX is part of this collection. Conceptually this is wrong, because INBOX should belong to the Incoming-Folders collection. One problem that you will have because of this misconception is that you will realize that you "can not" save a message to the INBOX. In fact, if you have a message that you want to save to INBOX, pressing "s" and writing "INBOX", won't have the desired effect. In order to save a message to the INBOX folder you need to give its path as specified in the "inbox-path" configuration variable (which is usually quite long). If you had an Incoming-Folders collection saving a message to the INBOX would be easier and it is explained in the Incoming-Folders Collection section. The default name of the folder (as you see it in this collection) can be changed. Its definition is in the file "pine/os.h".

There are a couple of folders that are also predefined for you.

  1. The sent-mail folder is used to keep a copy of your outgoing mail. Pine is highly configurable about every behavior related to this folder. For example, you can have no outgoing mail saved automatically to this folder, by defining your default-fcc "", or you can on a per message basis decide which messages which will be saved (or not) to the sent-mail folder. In fact, if while you are composing a message you press Ctrl-R in the headers of the message, you can redefine the Fcc: field. You can also change the default Fcc: for each of the persons in your addressbook by editing their corresponding entry in the addressbook. Finally there is a fcc-name-rule configuration option that controls where messages are copied by default.
        During the first session of Pine every month, Pine will ask you if you want to rename your sent-mail folder to a different name and then it will ask you if you want to delete old copies of this folder. You can disable anyone of these questions by defining conveniently the pruning-rule configuration option.
        Another interesting behavior worth noticing about this folder, is that when you open it for the first time, you'll see that all messages are marked New, despite the fact that you already read them. The meaning of the flag is that they are New to the folder, not to you. Another interesting behavior corresponds to what you see in the From field of the index. You should see that most messages are displayed as "To: Someone Else". If you use several different names to send e-mail, you may start seeing just your name, or the name of the different accounts you use to send messages, instead of who you sent the message to. In this case you should add the addresses that you use for composing messages to the "alt-addresses" configuration option. If this does not fix your problem, then you should pay attention to the definition of the index-format variable, and make sure that it contains either the FROMORTO or the FROMORTONOTNEWS token.
        Finally there are some options that also affect which messages are copied into the folder when sending a message. Among them you can have the attachments not saved when you send a message (fcc-without-attachments).
  2. The saved-messages folder is used to keep a copy of your incoming mail before you actually delete it from any of your Incoming-Folders. As sent-mail there are several configuration options that affect this folder. The name of this folder is controlled by the configuration option default-saved-msg-folder.
        If you define your saved-msg-name-rule to be by "default", then when you press "S" to save a message, Pine will offer to use this folder to save your message.
        Some other interesting configuration options are auto-move-read-msgs and read-message-folder. When these two options are set, Pine will use the name of the folder entered in the latter configuration option to move read messages that have not been deleted to this folder upon quitting your session.
        Notice that if you configure your read-message-folder to be saved-messages (or any other folder) then this folder will enter under the pruning-rule configuration option as it was explained in the sent-mail configuration option.
        One of the big differences in configurability of this folder with respect to the sent-mail folder is the fact that one can not configure Pine so that it offers a folder when messages from a mailing list which is different than the folder that you use to save messages from a certain person. For example, one may want to save messages from the mailing list "recipes" in the folder "rec/saved-recipes", but messages from your boss in the folder "boss". Regardless of how you configure Pine, there is no way to make Pine offer you these folders when you press "S" to save a message in a way that it will offer the correct folder for each message. There are however some approximations to this, if you for example decide to save messages by "nick", which helps a little bit, but you can't use it to save in subdirectories of mail/.
  3. The postponed messages folders (called postponed-msgs) folder, is the folder where messages are kept when you press the ^O key while composing a message. The folder is automatically created if it does not exist. When I use Pico as an editor I tend to save files with the ^O command instead of the ^X command, so I always make the mistake of pressing ^O while composing messages. It's very annoying to me that one can not confirm or cancel a message to be postponed (Grrr..)
        Notice that if you continue composing a postponed message while you are in this folder, pine will assume that you want to continue the message over which the cursor is on. For example, if the cursor in the index in on the last message, then pressing "C" to compose and accepting to continue the postponed message will continue composing the last message of that folder. When all messages of that folder have been continued, the folder is automatically deleted. Notice that accepting to continue a postponed message expunges that message immediately from this folder (in particular this implies that if you continue the first postponed message, then the second message of the folder will be immediately the first message and so on)
        There is one unexpected use of this folder, which is interesting by itself. One nice feature of Pine is that you can insert the text of another message within a message that you are composing without having to do some cut and paste procedure (press ^R ^W while you are in the composer). There are two problems with this, one is that if the message you want to insert is in the same folder, then you need to remember the number of the message in that folder. This is not good because sometimes you discover too late that you wanted to do this. The other problem is that the message that you want to insert in the message that you are composing may be in another folder. In this case, what one can do is to postpone the message that one is composing, go to the folder where the message that one wants to insert is in, and save this message to the postponed-msgs folder, then go to the postponed-msgs folder and continue the postponed message there. Now both, the message that you are composing, and the message that you want to insert, are in the same folder and you can insert the message that you wanted to as explained before (this is what a mathematician would love to do, to reduce the new problem to an old problem already solved). Notice that if you do this, the number of the message that you want to insert may be different than the one you see in the index, because the postponed message has been expunged from the folder, so if you sort your folders by arrival you have to insert the message that has the same number as the postponed message that you are continuing has.
  4. The form-letter-folder is a folder that you can use to save messages that you need to send several times, for example, something like "Dear XXX, we would like to invite you to a conference", is a good candidate for a message to be saved in this folder. In order to be able to have this folder available to you, you need to define the configuration variable "form-letter-folder", with the name of the folder that you are going to use as "form letters".
        The way that you add a message to this folder is by composing the form letter message that you want to add and pressing ^O to postpone. If the form-letter-folder option is configured, then Pine will ask you where you want to save the message to, either to the "Postponed-msgs" folder (which is the default, and you only need to press RETURN to do so) or to the "forms-letter-folder", which is done by pressing "F" at the prompt. If the folder does not exist, it will be created at the moment you save your first form letter.
        The way that you use a form letter in Pine, is in the same way that you would continue a postponed message, with the obvious modifications of changing "postponed" by "form letter" at each step.

Configuration Options Related to the Mail Collection

The following is a list of configurations that have to do with the Mail Collection.

    Configuration and Display

  1. default-fcc, is used to specify the name and location of the folders used to saved copies of outgoing messages. The default name is "sent-mail" and is defined in the file "pine/os.h".
  2. default-saved-msg-folder, is used to specify the name and locations of the folder used to save copies of incoming messages. The default name is "saved-messages" and is defined in the file "pine/os.h".
  3. postponed-folder, is used to specify the name of the folder used to save postponed messages. The default name is "postponed-msgs" and this default value can changed in the file "pine/os.h"
  4. read-message-folder, is the folder where messages that are received in an incoming folder are moved to, from your INBOX, when the folder is closed, after being read. You can specify any path for saving, but not specifying one means that the folder is located in the Mail Collection folder.
  5. form-letter-folder, is the name of the folder whose purpose is to have messages that can be used as a included text of a letter that you send often to different people. It differs with the postponed-msgs folder in that after having selected a message from this folder as a basis of your composition, the message is not deleted (or expunged) from the forms folder, as it is when a postponed message is continued.
  6. enable-dot-folders, determines if you can see folders whose name starts with a "period" in front of them. (Recommended).
  7. expanded-view-of-folders, this feature controls what happens when you press "L" to see your folder list. If this feature and the "combined-subdirectory-display" configuration option is also enabled, then setting this option will show the name of all the visible folders in this collection. If you have a News Collection defined, defining this may cause some delay, as Pine validates each newsgroup in the list of newsgroups, before the list of folders is displayed (actually this is done for every collection, as every collection is updated when you press "L"). If you loose too much performance by enabling this feature, feel free to disable it.
  8. quell-empty-directories, is an option that when enabled causes Pine not to show empty directories.
  9. separate-folder-and-directory-entries, has the following effect. When folders are displayed in the folder list, first are displayed the default folders (sent-mail, saved-messages, etc), then the rest of them. All the rest of the folders are shown in alphabetical order. If this option is enabled, folders will be shown in alphabetical order among real folders, and directories will also be sorted among them, but not all of them will be sorted together.
  10. single-column-folder-list is self explanatory. When folders are listed, only one folder is listed in each line.
  11. vertical-folder-list controls the display of the folders. If enabled when folders are sorted automatically the display may be horizontally sorted (the default) or vertically sorted (what this options controls!).
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